'Tis the Season: 7 Types of Christmas Shoppers

December 4, 2012

The Christmas shopping season strikes financial terror in the wallets and hearts of many. But while the end goal is generally the same for all people, it occurred to me that shoppers come in a lot of different packages.

Let’s unwrap a few of them and see what’s inside.

Type #1: I bought your gift last year at an after holiday sale. Severely frugal, this person scours the sale racks for a great buy.  The discount and savings are more important than the gift.  Better yet, the gift will be passé by next year and if you dare to wear the item, you’ll be alerting everyone that you have no sense of style.

In essence, the gift has no meaning.  Most of these shoppers forget why they bought it in the first place.  Worse, they can’t remember where they put the gift after a year.  This can lead to Type #6 (see below) shopping because they are now sans gift.

Also, this shopper is predisposed to using sale gift wrap or reused wrap from last year.

Type #2: I bought your gift twenty-minutes ago. This shopper is the “last minute Louie.”  They know time is of the essence and money is no object.  Really, isn't it the thought that counts?

The gift has no relevance to the giver or recipient.  Look, it’s just a gift.  These shoppers are too busy to shop, hate shopping, or couldn't give a rip about you.  Maybe, all three.  They are truly indecisive and unscripted.

Chances are you can easily spot this gift giver.  They can be found dripping sweat in a liquor store around the corner 15 minutes before your scheduled meeting time.

Type #3: I bought your gift online. These gift givers make their selections from an online list of “Top Ten Gifts This Season.”   They are impulse buyers who say, “It seemed like a good idea.”  These online purchases come with shipping included.

Type #3s love UPS-delivered gifts because they never require personal contact with the recipient.  On the upside, the recipient can return the gift without the giver ever knowing how bad the gift was and get something they actually want.

Type #4: I bought your gift at the thrift store. These people are just plain cheap.  They go to the thrift shop looking for a useful gift.  These are the timeless and classic gifts some would say are just old or worn out.  Often the gift provides a strong connection to the original owner’s personal scent.

The gift giver eliminates returned gifts since all sales are final.  An added advantage of these gifts is they require no break-in period.

Type #5: I am re-gifting a gift to you. They just want to share their bounty with you.  They want you to realize the utter uselessness of the item.  Type #5 gift givers are a step farther down the frugal and cheap path; they spend absolutely nothing on you.  In their hearts, they hope that the gift exchange with you offers them something of actual value.

Re-gifting is an excellent choice for office parties.  That antler handled set of bottle openers could produce a great bottle of wine in exchange.  The re-gift recipient has the potential to become a re-re-gifter next year.

Type #6:  I’ll buy your gift next week and send it to you.  Sadly, they promise to buy something next week, but never get around to it.  Under pressure, they can become Type #1, #3, or #5.  Usually, they walk away with a really nice gift and never return the favor.

Face it, they really don’t care about you in any way.

Type #7: Can I get this wrapped? This is the Christmas Eve, 11th hour, do or die, gift giver. Sometimes this works out for the gift recipient and sometimes it doesn't. There is a corollary here -- if it works for the recipient, it cost the giver a ton of cash. If it doesn't work for the recipient, the giver probably will be divorced or single next year.

Shopper type #7 is related to Shopper type #2 – last minute Louie. The distinction is that time really has just about run out for Shopper type #7 because most of the time they can’t use the Shopper type #6’s excuse of buying the gift later and sending it. Shopper type #7s are usually husbands and boyfriends that you can observe hovering three-deep at the department store jewelry counter right before the store closes on Christmas Eve. Jewelry always fits, right?

The truth is, when it comes to Christmas gifts, giving is often more rewarding than receiving. So put some time and effort into your holiday purchases this year and be rewarded with a sense of accomplishment and pride when your recipient genuinely loves your gift.

(Still not sure what to give? Check out this article from Yahoo Finance:  The Science Behind Gifting.)

Happy shopping!